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Trans Pyrenees 2016
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Thought I'd post a couple of pics and a few words about a trip I've just made with some good friends I first met on The Vince a few years back:

After four VINCE events in a row, and following a chance meeting with an orange bike rider near Oliana in Catalunya last year, the idea was born to do a Med to Atlantic crossing of the Pyrenees by trails as much as possible. After some research, the most straighforward way to achieve it without years of googlearth gazing seemed to be to use a prescouted route and a trip to the Vibraction website resulted in gpx files and roadbook tulip diagrams. At this point I should point out I was a latecomer to all this, as the planned date was set for July, and this being the start of haymaking season, I thought it unlikely that I could attend. Much planning by the rest of the team resulted in spares, ration packs and equipment being shared out between the three bikes. The day before the ferry was due to leave, I looked at the hay we'd already got in (about half the crop), looked at the weather forecast for the week ahead (mainly rain) had a quick chat with brother and father and booked a ticket to Santander. When you get the chance to do a trip, sometimes you just gotta go!

Some quick tyre swapping and hasty packing of the trusty 325 and I was ready to head to Portsmouth...

Trans Py 002.JPG



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The crossing is about 24 hours, and there were several folks on the way over to do one of Austin Vince's events.

Zero the trip meter at Santander, fill up with 95 Sin Plomo and we thrashed across to Collioure on the Mediterranean coast (via extremely dull, but quick French autoroutes rather than meandering across northern Spain with no obvious east west fast route) where the roadbook began.

Trans Py 006.JPG

Me (TTR325), John (KLX250), Rob (DRZ400) and the man with no name (TTR250), main instigator but with an allergy to having an internet presence in case his wives find out where he's been!

Typical Catalan view:

Trans Py 008.JPG



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Some lovely trails. As the roadbook was set up for 4x4s, there were few really gnarly bits (I think we counted 4 over the whole trip) that would be testing for anyone but a beginner, but the surfaces were frequently loose and too much speed into a corner could catch out the unwary with our fairly heavily loaded and unbalanced bikes (although nobody's admitting to it!)

Trans Py 009.JPG

Trans Py 014.JPG

Trans Py 021.JPGTrans Py 034.JPG



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Trans Py 038.JPG

At the western end of the mountains, the route took us along an escarpment overlooking the plains (no rain!) with numerous castles and medieval villages hinting at Spain's amazing military and religious history. Although the hills were smaller, the scenery was still amazing.

Trans Py 039.JPG

Further north, there are very few trails, but after a loop of Bardenas Reales national park (desert rather than mountain) we headed north again following some lovely long cross border trails over misty and rainy mountains back into France.

From ferry to ferry, we rode every day for 12 days, some days longer than others, but generally at a steady pace that allowed us to take in the scenery, lunch in restaurants fairly frequently, and cover 2435km (inc the run across France). 3 nights in bush camps, 1 hotel and the rest at campsites along the route. Although tired, I don't recall anyone complaining of aches and pains apart from numbbutt (DRZ ironing board anyone?) Mechanically, I broke a clutch cable (had a spare inner cable kit), the other 250s were faultless and the 'Zuke suffered a puncture (fencing staple through the rear tyre - very quickly and ably repaired despite the heat and plenty of gratuitous advice) and a couple of electrical gremlins which are probably attributable to the thieving scumbag who once tried to steal it. Nothing held us up for much more than half an hour.

My bike was returning approximately 73miles per gallon, used half a litre of oil - all on the run to the ferry and the thrash across France. None on the trails. I squeezed in a quick oil change at our last campsite to make the 3 hour motorway run home more comfortable on my conscience. The CCM 644 I bought and restored thinking I needed a bigger bike for this sort of trip stayed at home and will now be up for sale. Little TTR (admittedly a 325) did me proud.

We had a great trip and I thoroughly recommend giving it a go. My only suggestion would be to go earlier or later in the year to avoid the heat.

  



-- Edited by mossproof on Thursday 11th of August 2016 05:45:00 PM

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Wow - that is STUPENDOUS scenery.

How can the chap on the TTR250 see through those Marty Feldman glasses? confuse

I'll bet you have a sore bum doing all those miles in so short a period. hmm

Martyn

 



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Brilliant. Thanks for the report. I think I might head out there next year.

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Ace stuff Simonsmile

Thanks for posting, sounds like you all had a great time.

I will be entering the Vince next year. May be in touch for some tips!

Steve



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Raid seat Martyn - soft as a sofa! I only really got achy knees from the bend for long periods of road work.
Northern Spain is so accessible, and Spain's 1:25000 maps on Viewranger or Mytrails on smartphone make navigation quite easy. You do have to be careful though as some trails have no public access but are not marked any differently, and the national parks and ski areas have local regulations that can catch you out.
Ride safe,
Simon.

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